Seasoned action sports photographer Scott Starr has made it his mission to collect vintage surf, skate, bike, and snowboard video clips and archive them on Youtube. Shut down once already for complaints regarding copyright, his channel includes amazing vintage commercials and television segments, including the above Wham-o Wheelie Bar ad, Mr. Ed the surfing horse, and a 1969 Coke commercial featuring Jay Adams. Cruising through his 140 videos is an experience that’ll have you saying “rad” again and again, and really meaning it.
Quick, define “anemophilous.” Don’t know? That’s OK, neither did I. What if I told you that you could learn the answer while helping fight hunger? All you need to do is visit freerice.org. Created by John Breen, a father trying to come up with a better, more engaging (and interactive) way to help his kids learn vocabulary, Free Rice is addicting in its simplicity. All you do is choose from multiple-choice definitions of a featured word. But the part that moves it beyond enjoyable, to a compelling act of positive change, is that for every word you get correct, Free Rice donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nation’s hunger relief efforts. You see, Breen already had a passion: Working to end world poverty and hunger. His first website, poverty.com, is a tremendous resource for learning about global hunger, and taking action against it.
I love words, and not just in the “I really like to read” way. I’m the kind of person who could spend hours in the hammock with the Oxford American Dictionary and call it a good day (bourbon helps with this). So it was with great joy that I discovered Free Rice earlier this fall. Since it’s creation in October, Free Rice has donated 10,604,716,470 grains of rice, and I’m glad to know that I’ve helped. So far, I’ve hit the wall at level 46. Let me know if you crack that (without a dictionary). Oh, anemophilous, which was my most recent nemesis, means “wind-pollinated.”
One of the characteristics that distinguishes humans as a species is our capacity to tell stories. In fact, we live by the stories that define our values and frame our understanding of our relationships to one another and the natural world. Authentic cultural stories are those that are told by authentic storytellers and artists who interpret the values and aspirations of our communities. In our modern age the storytelling function has been largely co-opted by entrenched power brokers ” witness the “official story” behind the march into Iraq or the “official story” behind many of the post 9/11 directives in the name of national security.
It may seem to be absurdly simple, but a key to provoking positive change and re-directing our future is to change the stories we live by. Think about Al Gore and his story. He uttered an “inconvenient truth.” In fact, he uttered it time and time again to audience after audience and, in the process, opened the door of possibility to a different future. Masterful storytelling, but the job is nowhere near done. Last week’s stalemate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali is indicative of how far we have to go. But, then Al Gore showed up and told an inspiring story that conveyed an alternative narrative. It’s not yet the official story or the dominant story but it’s a story worth listening to.
Last week a friend sent me an e-mail containing “The Story of Stuff” video, a wonderful look at how consumerism shapes our worldview and the topic of Ian’s post below. After getting a major in environmental studies, I love to pretend that I’m enlightened in relation to consumerism, my eco-footprint, sustainability, and the like. While watching the video I realized that I, like most humans, need constant reminders to remember my environmental ethics. It’s the holiday season, and naturally I went out and bought stuff. Granted, I mostly bought eco-friendly gifts. I attempted to support local artists. I even tried to find things that would be useful for a long time after the holidays were over. (I’m sure my family will be sad not to receive reindeer sweaters from me this year. Who doesn’t love those?) But innately, even if I wrap things in the same cloth bags I use every year, consumption was at the center of my holiday traditions once again.
What is it about this season that can force a fanatical environmentalist like myself to buy my brother a belt buckle with a piece of a beer can embedded in it? Read More »
In this digital age, when email has replaced letter writing, megapixels have become film, and Wacom tablets are more convenient than canvasses and paintbrushes, it’s refreshing to get back to the simple, sensual act of laying down an expressive line in jet-black ink.
I was just given this hand-crafted Tim’s Pen from Portland’s Timothy Leigh Company a few days ago and love everything about it. The pen’s shaft is made from found and repurposed Birdseye Maple, long-aged and finished with oil and fine wax; the nib holder is brass pipe; the nib itself is hammered and foiled from a recycled metal can. Even the caps on the box are beautiful, carved from incense cedar.
The tool itself is handsome enough to be called art, but to hold it in your hand, dip it in ink, and actually use it”that is really special. The variation of the line that can be achieved by simply changing angles and pressure can shift from fat and powerful to delicate and fragile in one stroke.
Attempting to channel Picasso’s Don Quixote, I immediately scratched out a drawing of a surfer, thrilled at how rich the 15-minute process was: the scratch of the nib on paper, the volatile pools of dripping ebony.
Handmade, sustainable, one-of-a-kind, and designed to last a lifetime, this is perhaps the gift I’ll covet most and longest after the holiday season.
Tim Pen’s start at $35, depending on the wood used. The only way to get one is to contact Tim directly: tim at leighcompany dot com. (If you do, ask him how he started this inspiring endeavor.)
A few days ago I received an email that read as follows:
“I try not to send too many mass emails about the subject of my work, but this one can’t be missed. A friend in Berkeley, Annie Leonard, produced this video with Free Range Films. I have been anxiously awaiting it, and boy is it good. It gets a little political perhaps where it shouldn’t, but it is the first time I’ve seen the truth and consequences of our consumerism put into understandable, comprehensive terms. Please watch it online“it’s pretty short (15 mins) and you will not regret spending the time. And please send it to everyone you know. Everyone in the world (literally) needs to see this.”
There’s only one thing I’d add to that urging: Our dominant paradigm for understanding the world is based almost exclusively on a linear cause-and-effect worldview. The difficulty with this paradigm is that it provides a very limited short-term perspective for understanding how things really work. What makes this video, which is called “The Story of Stuff,” so compelling is that it goes beyond the typical linear cause-and-effect paradigm by examining patterns of behavior and the interrelationship between things. It’s a whole systems view that enables a much deeper understanding of the way things operate; an understanding that creates the conditions to make lasting positive change within the system possible.
BASE Jumping scares the hell out of me. But like many things that scare me — extreme skiing, deep water soloing, elevators full of blood — I enjoy watching it from the safety of a screen. And recently it’s gotten pretty interesting: There are now some remarkable things happening in the sport, mostly as a result of flying-squirrel-like jumping outfits called “wingsuits.”
The flat-out craziest, however, is the effort to jump out of a plane in one of these suits and land, without the benefit of a parachute. As Jeb Corliss explains in this video on nyt.com, the appeal is a combination of limit-seeking and Iccarus complex: “This will be the first time that a human being has reached terminal velocity and landed on their face, at over 110 miles an hour, and gotten up and done it again. You know, that’s a very special thing.”
For those readers of the kitchen residing in the Portland area, check out Revolution Green, a ‘renewable documentary’ playing tonight, Thursday December 6th, at the Hollywood Theatre. Narrated by Woody Harrelson and featuring Willie Nelson, it traces the history of biodiesel from its origins early in the twentieth century to its current resurgence, including the region’s own SeQuential BioFuel, the Eugene-based biodiesel plant with a real, live service station.
Putting their money where they’re mouth is, they’re also offering $1 off the $6 ticket price for those who ride the bus to the show, so whip out your Tri-Met passes and make the trip! Not in Portland? You can pick up a DVD at RevolutionGreen.com.
This past weekend Portland played host to the last stop in the USGP of cyclocross. In true Pacific NW fashion, the weather served up some epic conditions, from early morning snow on Saturday morning to frigid rain that afternoon to a torrential downpour with crazy wind on Sunday. All in all, a perfect weekend for cyclocross. Something about dealing with the worst weather brings out the best in people in the cross scene, as evidenced by the impressive racing and the unflagging commitment of the spectators. I was out cheering for the local crew, and snapping a few pics of notable wet-weather fashion moments. Here’s a few for your enjoyment… Read More »
The Thought Kitchen is our effort at collective inquiry and its power to effect change. Have you ever noticed how the party is always in the kitchen? There are more walls to lean on and people are energized by the proximity to food and drink. Well, welcome to our kitchen, where we hope to tap into everything we love about that feeling—community, vivacious exchange, food for thought.